Intel Files Patent To Reduce Energy Usage For Bitcoin Mining
Tech giant Intel has filed a patent for a new bitcoin mining chip accelerator, according to a US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent application released on March 29.
The patent, originally submitted to the USPTO in September 2016, aims to reduce the amount of energy being used in bitcoin mining operations by reducing the space utilized and power consumed by bitcoin mining hardwares.
The process of bitcoin mining can be very power-intensive and utilize large amounts of hardware space because the software and hardware utilized in bitcoin mining uses brute force to repeatedly and endlessly perform SHA-256 functions. The patent states that “because of the large amount of power utilized, and the relatively high cost of that power, mining bitcoins can be a very costly endeavor. In some embodiments, the cost to mine a single bitcoin may exceed the value of the mined bitcoin.”
By combining a bitcoin mining hardware accelerator with an optimized SHA-256 message digest and message scheduler datapaths, Intel’s patent aims to achieve possible 18% improvement in the critical path of a new method of computation, another probable 31.5% improvement in the critical path of a different set of computations.
“These optimizations may result in a 15% combinational area and 35% combinational power improvement in the message digest logic,” the patent states.
Randy Copeland, president of Velocity Micro, a Richmond, Virginia-based systems builder and Intel partner, said that the that new accelerator could change things for the better.
“Once this new Intel technology comes to market, more people will mine again because it’s profitable again, driving down the market value of the coins and finding a new market balance that will again put locations with lower electricity costs back at the advantage,” Copeland said.
The patent application is not Intel’s first foray into the cryptocurrency space. In 2015, Intel built chips for Silicon Valley startup 21 Inc., which soon offered its eponymous bitcoin computer and later pivoted to a social network offering called Earn.com.
In May 2017, Intel partnered with healthcare transaction service provider and software development firm PokitDok in order to utilize blockchain technology in the healthcare industry. In October 2017, the tech giant partnered with hardware wallet developer Ledger to store cryptocurrency on the company’s platform.